December 12, 2007

Creating a functional resume that works!

Recently, I got a few e-mails from readers who wanted to know about the different types of resumes that you can create, as I mentioned before that there are usually three main types of resumes: chronological, functional, and combination.

Originally, the resume that Joe Smith used was a combination resume. It is the type of resume you would use if you have some experience, but also want to highlight some skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

However, what if Joe didn’t have any experience? What would he do?

Don’t worry if you’d think Joe’s resume would be blank – most people do. But the last thing a hiring manager wants to see is a blank page. After all, if they wanted white paper, they could go and take some from their printer!

Instead, Joe could create a resume that’ll work in his favour by highlighting his skills. This type of resume is known as a functional resume, and its main goal is to provide prospective employers with a snapshot of your skill set that relates to the job, versus a listing of previous jobs.

Here are some basic things to keep in mind when constructing a functional resume. And you can click on the picture to see what Joe's functional resume would look like.


As with the combination resume, the functional resume should have your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address at the top. Feel free to get creative and format it in a cool way – think of this as your own personal letterhead. Just remember there should be no pictures, colours or funky fonts. It should only contain the information I listed above, but feel free to bold your name, justify left/right/centre, and use a line or two to break up the information.


Just like a combination resume, a functional resume needs an objective. Use this space to write a short line about the job you are seeking with what company and where you heard about it. If there is a reference number listed on the job posting, make sure you include it here. Even if you are handing out your resume to a number of places (say, in a mall), make sure you customize each objective by stating the job you want and the name of the company – nothing is worse than giving a hiring manager a resume that has an objective that reads “To find a job”!


Next comes information on your educational history. For this part, just list the high school or post-secondary institution you go to – do not list your elementary school, as it will make you appear young. If you’ve won any awards, feel free to list a few.


Here’s where the functional resume differs from the combination resume. Instead of listing work experience, in a function resume, you list your skills. Start off with a really broad skill (e.g. communication skills) and then give specific examples of that skill. For example, under the “Communication skills” heading, you could talk about any other languages you speak, your well-developed presentation skills, or your excellent written communication skills. As a rule of thumb, I’d highlight three relevant broad skills and provide 2 to 3 examples of that skill. Some broad skills that you can use include: communication skills, customer service skills, kitchen skills, computer skills, or visual/artistic skills.


Often, functional resumes have a space remaining at the bottom. Rather than leave it blank, use it as a way to let the hiring manager know a little bit more about yourself. Talk about your activities at or outside of school or your interests. If you do decide to talk about your interests, make sure you keep it mature (e.g. don’t mention that you like to party or drink on the weekend – that’s a definite path to the NO pile). As well, if your references happen to match the type of company you want to work for, make sure you highlight it. For example, if you are applying at a music store, make sure you say you enjoying listening to music, and either list some of your favourite genres or artists.


Do not put the contact information of your references on your resume. By providing the information, you are giving the hiring manager permission to call them, and that might not work in your favour. Let’s say you decide to hand out 20 resumes at the mall – your references could get 20 phone calls. Sure the first few might be really enthusiastic, but by the 20th call, the person could get tired about talking about you. Plus, you always want to forewarn your references about the type of company you are applying at so they can ensure they highlight your relevant skills.

Ultimately, a functional resume can easily work for you if you've never worked/volunteered before, or would prefer to highlight your skills over your work experience.

Just make sure you keep it short, sweet, and to the point, and that you clearly give examples or descriptions of the 3 or 4 skills you choose to highlight.

For an online, functional resume creator, visit and follow the resume links.

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